Episode 381:

Joein’ It Up

The Murder of Rita Curran


Vladimir Komarov, "The Man Who Fell From Space"


Episode 381: Joein’ It Up

On today's episode, Karen covers the tragic murder of Rita Curran and Georgia tells the story of "the man who fell from space," cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov.

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The Murder of Rita Curran

The Murder of Rita Curran Notes:

Header Image Source: Photo by Patrick Bald on Unsplash

Other Images:

1. Rita Curran


"Rita Curran, a shy and reposeful presence, was loved by many. She was a daughter, sister, friend, and beloved second grade teacher to many students at the Milton Elementary School in Milton, Vermont. It was the summer of 1971, just months before the start of a new school year, when Rita moved to nearby Burlington in the area of the University of Vermont Campus. Over her summer break, she was employed as a chambermaid at the Colonial Motor Inn on Shelburne Road in South Burlington, and she had been taking graduate courses at the University. This period in time was the first in Rita’s life that she had lived away from her childhood home, and the reserved young woman was doing her best to embrace a new life somewhat out of her comfort zone. She had joined a barber shop quartet, and she lived with two roommates, Beverly and Kerry, in an apartment on Brookes Avenue. 

On the night of July 20th, Rita was at a rehearsal for her barber shop quartet until shortly after 10:00 p.m. She returned home before long to find that her roommates and a friend of theirs were preparing to go to a late dinner at a restaurant on Shelburne Road. They invited Rita along, but she politely declined, and saw them off at around 11:20 p.m. Rita proceeded in her nightly routine, and began getting ready to turn in for the evening. 

Rita’s roommates returned to 17 Brookes Avenue around 12:30 a.m. with one of their boyfriends, Paul Robinson. The trio sat and chatted in the living room for roughly an hour. But at 1:30, when Beverly Lamphere opened the door to the bedroom she shared with Rita,  she came upon something utterly horrifying. Just behind the door was the partially nude body of her roommate, sprawled on the floor..."

Source: “Rita Curran” (Cold Case New England)

Vladimir Komarov, "The Man Who Fell From Space"

Vladimir Komarov, "The Man Who Fell From Space" Notes:


1. Vladimir Komarov


"In life, Vladimir Komarov was an exceptional Soviet cosmonaut. But he would be remembered best for his death — as the “man who fell from space.” In 1967, with the 50th anniversary of the Communist Revolution approaching, Komarov was tapped for a historic space mission. Tragically, it proved fatal.

Although Komarov was well-trained, the Soyuz 1 mission he embarked upon was allegedly rushed.

Rumors would later swirl that the spacecraft had “hundreds” of structural problems before it took off — and that at least some high-ranking Soviets deliberately ignored the engineers’ warnings.

However, these claims and others appear in a controversial 2011 book — which is described by historians as being “rife with errors.” While there’s no question that Komarov’s spacecraft had issues, much of his death and the events leading up to it have been shrouded in mystery — thanks in part to questionable accounts but also due to the secrecy of the Soviet Union.

But this much we know: Komarov made multiple orbits around the Earth in his spacecraft, he struggled to reenter the atmosphere once he was done, and he ended up plummeting to the ground — dying in a horrific explosion.

And Vladimir Komarov — the man who fell from space — returned to Earth reduced to a charred, irregular “lump.” While much remains unknown about the events leading up to his demise, there’s no question that his story is a testament to the madness of the Cold War space race — and the price that the Soviet Union paid for progress..."

Source: “Inside The Brutal Death Of Vladimir Komarov, The Cosmonaut Whose Space Capsule Smashed Into Earth” by Marco Margaritoff (All That’s Interesting)

Karen's Episode Sources

  1. “Unsolved” by Elizabeth Murray (Burlington Free Press) 2021
  2. “Cigarette Butt Leads to Teacher’s Killer Over 50 Years Later” by Pilar Melendez (The Daily Beast) 2023
  3. “Her Murder Was Tied to Ted Bundy. Then the Case Went Cold.” By Pilar Melendez (The Daily Beast) 2021
  4. “Rita Curran” (Cold Case New England)
  5. “Unsolved Murders in Vermont Haunt, Frustrate Investigators” by Jane Smith (Burlington Free Press) 1976
  6. “Lid of Secrecy Clamped on Murder Investigation” by Eric Loring (The Burlington Free Press) 1971
  7. “Suspect identified in 1971 Vermont murder case” (NBC News) 2023
  8. “A 24-year-old teacher was murdered in 1971. DNA on a cigarette butt just solved the case.” By Lilly St. Angelo (USA Today) 2023
  9. “Cigarette butt left at 1971 crime scene solves cold case murder of Vermont woman: Police” by Marisa Sarnoff (Law & Crime) 2023
  10. “Rita Curran Murder Case Still Open” (The Burlington Free Press) 1972
  11. Murder of Rita Curran (Wikipedia)